Tag Archives: Brian Cox

The Set of 400: #278 – My Favorite Dirty Harry Inspiration

Today! Because I am not the Zodiac. And if I were, I certainly wouldn’t tell you –

Zodiac (2007)

Directed by David Fincher

Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, Robert Downey Jr. (x3), Brian Cox (x2), John Carroll Lynch (x2), Anthony Edwards, Chloe Sevigny, Elias Koteas, Dermot Mulroney, Donal Logue (x2), Philip Baker Hall, Zach Grenier (x2), Adam Goldberg, Charles Fleischer (x2), Paul Schulze, John Getz, June Diane Raphael, Candy Clark, Jimmi Simpson, Clea DuVall

Not so much concerned with unearthing who the killer was (even though it does present a theory), Zodiac primarily follows the lives of San Francisco Chronicle cartoonist Robert Graysmith and S.F. detective Dave Toschi, and their respective obsessions with the case as it unfolds and in the subsequent years, as the trail runs maddeningly cold. It’s an expansive ’60s/’70s epic in the hands of the premiere murder mystery director of our time (Se7en, Gone Girl) – and one of the sure thing, must-run-out-and-see-whatever-he-does filmmakers – David Fincher.

And it is exhaustive. Covering the source material in great detail, and trying to encapsulate well over a decade in these characters’ lives, the movie naturally was going to be lengthy, but it manages to clip right along, even feeling a bit rushed in parts, pouring out details and recounting theories at a steady clip. But keeping the engine running solidly are the terrific performances of Gyllenhaal and Ruffalo as Graysmith and Toschi, plus a just pre-Iron Man Downey as self-destructive reporter Paul Avery. The Downey comeback was well underway by ’07 – what with Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Good Night and Good Luck, and A Scanner Darkly in the preceding years – but Zodiac seemed to cement the fact that he was solidly reliable, and a little over a year later he was superheroing it up at Marvel.

’70s Banner and Stark!

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The Set of 400: #320 – My Favorite British Theodore Dreiser Tragedy

Today! Because you have to learn to push guilt under the rug and move on –

Match Point (2005)

Directed by Woody Allen

Starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Scarlett Johansson, Matthew Goode, Brian Cox, Emily Mortimer, Penelope Wilton, Toby Kebbell, James Nesbitt, Ewan Bremner

The best of Woody’s European/Johansson cinematic excursion of the mid-to-late ’00s, Match Point was the first good movie he’d made in some time, and the first solid straight drama since at least Husbands and Wives in ’92 (and that’s still a funny-ish movie). This Hitchcockian-Dostoevskyian suspense thriller feels reinvigorated by a change of venue from the notoriously NYC-centric filmmaker – a move almost entirely due to British funding more than any desire to leave the Big Apple. The cast is first rate, and the script clips right along – something that Woody’s later comedies have a hard time achieving.

This is the only one of Woody’s pure dramas to make the list – as much as I admire Interiors and Crimes and Misdemeanors, I don’t have great affection for them. It is also one of only two of his films made after 1995 to appear here (again, I’m going to warn there is a lot of Woody Allen coming in the next year. And again, yes, I struggle with this – see #349 Broadway Danny Rose for more details), as his later work has been very hit and miss. For every good-to-great Midnight in Paris or Blue Jasmine, there have been five Anything Elses and Cafe Societys. But hey, at least he keeps making movies. And every four or five years or so, a pretty good one.

If I never see Cafe Society again it’ll be too soon

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